Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fil-Am groups call for boycott as PAL refuses to fly PALEA member and family

Representatives from Partido ng Manggagawa-USA and Filipino-American groups BANTAY Pilipinas-Los Angeles, Alliance Philippines and Echo Park Community Coalition called on the public especially Filipino-Americans to boycott Philippine Airlines (PAL) as the groups condemned the harassment tactics of the company against members of the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA). Last November 6 (US time), PAL refused to board a PALEA member and her family despite holding tickets for the Los Angeles-Manila flight because she was supposedly on “blacklist of PALEA members.”

“We condemn, in harshest terms, the violence and other harassment tactics employed by PAL against PALEA. Just last week, a gang of goons hired by PAL violently attacked the PALEA protest camp. Now, PAL issued a memo unjustly rescinding the earned travel benefits of these employees. Clearly all of these are meant to harass protesting workers. We call on the public to continue supporting the struggle of PALEA for decent jobs,” asserted Ian Seruelo, PM’s liaison officer in the US.

Members of the Fil-Am groups accompanied PALEA member Belle Savellano to the Los Angeles airport last Sunday as she and her family tried but was refused to be boarded on a flight back to the Philippines. “We need to go back to the Philippines since my husband has to go back to work on November 8 and my children also starts school on the same day. My family is suffering because of what PAL is doing,” she said of the urgency of her case.

Savellano, a PALEA member who worked for PAL for more than 28 years, is one of some 2,400 employees locked out after their protest last September 27. Savellano and family flew to the US on October 19 to visit their relatives in San Diego using her travel benefit that was approved before the lock out. On October 23, PAL issued a memo that renders Savellano’s return ticket useless.

“PAL’s action is shameless. Not only is it engaged in violating the rights of these workers to collective bargaining and decent employment but now it is even engaged in tactics intended to trample upon the freedom of these workers to be heard and their fundamental right to express their legitimate grievances. We appeal to everyone especially to our Filipino brothers and sisters to boycott PAL!” added Jerry Esguerra of BANTAY Pilipinas-LA.

“We are here today to support Belle from this obvious effort to bully her and her family. Allowing Belle and family to fly to the US last October 19 using her travel benefits and then disallowing them to use the same tickets to return to the Philippines is plain sabotage and harassment. In the very first place, PALEA employees are deserving of these benefit as they already worked for and earned these benefits,” said Art Garcia of Alliance Philippines.

The Fil-Am groups vowed to increase its efforts to campaign for the boycott of PAL until the flag carrier has heeded the demands of PALEA for the return to their regular jobs. They believe that the fight against corporate greed is exemplified in the struggle of PALEA. They jointly declared that “The oppression of PALEA is a reflection of the plight of ordinary workers all over the world. We have to fight back as we are all PALEAns!”

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